FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys are still known as movers and shakers on draft weekend, even if their recent history suggests otherwise.
The front office has picked at their original draft position in each of the last three years – and team owner/general manager Jerry Jones suggested Monday that patience again might be the best approach as the team enters Thursday's first round with the No. 28 overall pick.
"This is a real good year for staying put," Jones said at the team's pre-draft press conference from The Star in Frisco.
"I don't know if it's because we need so many good football players or because there are some good football players there, especially in those early rounds. But in my experience, it's wasting your time to talk about what you might do trading in the later rounds. As far as value, what opportunities we might have there, you don't ever want to predetermine what you're going to do. But certainly, if you stay there we will have an opportunity to really help our team, in my view."
"Staying put" has worked out well for Dallas in the recent first rounds.
Last year, No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott transformed the offense with a league-leading 1,631 rushing yards. Byron Jones, the 27th pick in 2015, is now a defensive cornerstone as the starting free safety. And 2014 first-rounder Zack Martin (No. 16 overall) has been an All-Pro guard in each of his first three seasons.
The last time the Cowboys moved out of their first-round pick was 2013, when they traded No. 18 to the 49ers for No. 31 (All-Pro center Travis Frederick) and an extra third-rounder (starting wide receiver Terrance Williams).
That worked out well, too. But historically, the longer teams wait to pick, the lesser their odds of landing an impact player.
"Doesn't mean that won't change when the time gets there. You never know what someone might offer you or who's there and who's not, so you don't ever say never," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "But I think it is a great draft to be staying put in terms of picking who is there when your time comes there.
"Everybody says, are you really going to stick with the best player on your board, and it just so happens that in this particular draft, there's a good chance that some of the best players on our board are going to be at positions we get pointed out to as a team that needs this, needs that. I think those positions are going to be there for us and be there in a good way."
The general consensus among outside draft observers is this year's class is deepest at two of the Cowboys' biggest positions of need: defensive line and secondary. Seven defensive linemen and defensive backs left the roster in free agency, including three starters in the secondary: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Barry Church.
With modest salary cap space, the Cowboys had to be efficient in evaluating which players they could keep. They also knew the upcoming draft had depth at those spots.
It might be deep enough to stay at No. 28 and get a player they really value.